Life can sometimes be very difficult for these child prodigies. Their unique talents can put enormous pressure on them. Other children taunt them as freaks, adults sometimes see them as threats, or as curiosities. Sometimes being normal is an elusive dream.
Among the extraordinary people you'll meet on this Thursday's show:
Jasmine Lee, a seven-year-old Montanan with an IQ of 173. She spoke in complete sentences at six months, and was writing at the age of one. She reads Homer and studies quantum physics. She loves learning, and studies 14 hours a day. Too smart for first grade, she is taught by her mother at home, and through a Stanford-run gifted student program that uses the Internet. When she's nine, she'll go off to college. But by taking this unusual path, has she given up essential social development?
Read more about the Stanford program for gifted children where Jasmine is a student.
- John Riney, a 16-year-old from a small town in South Carolina. He skipped high school completely, and has already graduated from college. Because John can't yet legally drive, his mother drives him to work every morning. John works as a computer programmer for a large international consulting company, and he makes a good salary, especially for a 16-year-old. But life wasn't always so rosy for John. As a seven-year-old fifth grader, he was teased mercilessly by his classmates. One day, two of them knocked him down, and he suffered a concussion. This harsh treatment contributed to his decision to enter Charleston Southern University when he was ten years old.
Natalie Gulbis, a 15-year-old Californian who likes hot fudge ice cream - for breakfast. She's exceptional in other ways as well: she is California's reigning women's amateur golf champion. Some observers say she is the best female junior player in the country. Amidst this hype, she tries to stay level-headed. Although she could soon turn professional, she says she wants instead to go to college for four years, and enjoy herself.
Check out these links related to intelligence, gifted children, and Lila McCann..
- Beverly Klass, a road map for how not to handle a child prodigy. In 1966, Klass, a ine-year-old golf prodigy, turned pro. Her enormous promise was never fulfilled though. She ended up in and out of mental hospitals, the victim, she says, of an overly ambitious, abusive father. "Child prodigies," she says, "miss out on a lot."
- Lila McCann, who at 16 already has a top country hit, "I Wanna Fall In Love." A native of Tacoma, Washington, Lila still goes to high school there, and is even a cheerleader. She juggles normal teenage life with the demands of being a country star. She has sleepovers with her friends, and like almost every teenage girl, has a crush on Brad Pitt. The only difference: she may end up starring in a movie with him.
- Matthew McDowell, Only 16, Matthew already has a Corvette and two BMWs. Is he spoiled? No, not at all. He's a successful businessman, with his own computer consulting company, which he started when he was only nine. He still goes to high school, though only in the mornings.
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produced by David Kohn